Gripes Archives

Blogging equals complaining, right?

Google-powered, reader-antagonistic, content-obscuring survey-ads: W-T-F?

I’ve seen something like this a few times on a dictionary website, where the text on the page has been replaced by gray boxes. There’s nothing more aggravating than looking up a word only to find the definition permanently obscured unless I interact with an ad. Merriam AND Webster must be rolling in their graves.

So you can only imagine my disappointment to find the bottom third of a local news article (that I had recently linked to) obscured in a similar manner. But what surprised me the most was to learn it was powered by Google! Really Google? Really!?

Here’s a screenshot of the survey in situ:

Google-powered, reader-antagonistic, content-obscuring survey-ads

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Hotel Wifi JavaScript Injection

So I’m checking my blog on the hotel wifi, like ya do, and I notice something a little off with the style. There’s a dark colored bar at the top of the page that shouldn’t be there. That’s funny. Maybe a recent Firefox update changed how they treat CSS?

Justinsomnia screenshot showing weird blue bar
Screenshot of Justinsomnia with weird bar circled in red

I probably wouldn’t have thought much of it, except my blog had recently been hacked (someone had gained elevated access to my web hosting account and prepended every single PHP file with a base64 encoded rootkit), so I immediately decided to view the source. Sure enough I saw some unfamiliar CSS and JavaScript that had been injected after the <head> tag (reformatted here for readability):

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Ubuntu Unity: Ugh

Ubuntu logoIn April, Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal) shipped with a new window manager called Ubuntu Unity. I tried to like it, really I did! But it just kept getting in my way. The Launcher made it harder for me to figure out what applications were running, the Mac-esque disappearing Global Menus were painful when I had several windows side-by-side, and the Dash forced me to know in advance what program I was looking for (recall is harder than recognition). What worries me about disabling it outright is that the upcoming release of Ubuntu (Oneiric Ocelot) will apparently not offer the classic window manager at all. In the meantime, I made the following changes to have a workable and consistent environment.

Disable Ubuntu Unity

To revert to the classic look and feel, select “Ubuntu Classic” from the Session select box in the bottom panel before you enter your password to login. You’ll only need to do this once. If Ubuntu automatically logs you in, “Log Out” using the on/off button in the upper-right and follow the previous instructions.

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How to avoid a new cellphone contract

Recently my 4 year-old cellphone broke in half. Thus I was faced with two choices:

  1. start a new two-year contract, costing more per month than my current plan, to get a basic, albeit heavily-rebated cellphone
  2. buy the cellphone for its full MSRP of around $160

I kind of think of these as “taxes”. Carrier lock-in on one hand, or price-gouging on the other. Both of which I wanted to avoid. The guy at the Sprint store suggested that I check around Craigslist and eBay for someone selling their old phone.

Sure enough, someone on eBay was selling a Samsung A840 for $10 + $7 shipping. It was used, yes, and there’s always a risk that someone is selling stolen phones (though I’m guessing that’s more a problem with iPhones and Blackberries), but the seller, Legacy Wireless, seemed reputable. So for a mere $17, I got a new phone (well, new to me) without having to start a new contract.

Samsung A840, broken, and not broken

Sandal fail (or foot fail)

I’ve never been much of an open-toe footwear person. I like my socks. And I never learned how to walk in flip-flops. So it was with some anxiety that I recently decided to pick up my first pair of sandals after a visit to REI recently. I had been eyeing the Keens, but the guy there sold me on the indestructible Chacos. I ended up ordering a pair of 9 wides from Zappos because they had the color I preferred. Stephanie also picked up a pair, which I thought looked surprisingly elegant on her feet (for being so hardcore).

Justin and Stephanie wearing Chacos

Well, we decided to put them to the test on what was supposed to be an eight mile hike around Tubbs Island, in the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge on Saturday. Turns out part of the trail was closed, so we didn’t make it all the way around the island, but just getting down there and back we hiked about six and a half miles. In sandals.

What were we thinking?

We spent practically the whole time talking about how the sandals felt, adjusting the straps, picking little stones out from under our feet. Even though we could have waded through the “impassable” section of trail, we were happy to have an excuse to turn back because our feet hurt so much. By the time we made it to the car, I had three blisters on one foot and two on the other. Ouch.

Not sure what we’re supposed to take away from this experience…

  1. Sandals are not a replacement for good hiking shoes
  2. My pampered feet need to gradually work up to this
  3. Chacos are not a good match for my feet
  4. Sandals are not intended for long treks

Anyway, it kind of sucks, because I thought they looked pretty sweet. For sandals.